Taking One Day at a Time: Supporting Our Most Vulnerable Victims of Abuse
United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County.
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“I’m scared,” Julia told Mike, her best friend at kindergarten. It was recess. They were sitting beside each other on the swing set, not really swinging anymore. She had slipped off her flip flops and her bare feet hovered over the ground, unable to reach the padded surface. “I don’t like it when he comes into my room at night.”
As Julia talked, Mike remembered a word his mom had once told him: boundaries. “No one has the right to touch you or make you feel uncomfortable,” she’d said. He hadn’t known what she meant at the time.
After school, Mike’s mom looked at him in the rearview mirror. He was sitting in the backseat with a look on his face she’d never seen before. “What’s up, kiddo?” she asked. He looked at her eyes in the mirror and started to cry. She pulled the car to the side of the road and turned around. “Mikey?”
He tried to speak through the tears.
I think someone is touching Julia in a bad way.
Diane answered the phone after the third ring. “Diane? It’s Mike’s mother. Can I come over?”
It’s the news no parent wants to receive: your child may be the victim of sexual abuse. Even worse, at the hands of someone close, right under their noses. An uncle or aunt, a spouse, a grandparent, a cousin, a close family friend.
An older brother.
After learning of the alleged abuse, Diane and her husband Tom took immediate action. They confronted their teenage son, who confessed to sexually abusing his five-year-old sister. They filed a police report and separated him from Julia. Then, they contacted the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center, who began providing their daughter with crisis counseling through their Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) program.
Listening to Diane and Tom recall the experience is never easy. Yet, it’s the type of story the people at CAC hear all too often. And while there is no success in stories such as Julia’s, there are successful outcomes as a result of the intervention services CAC provides to the most vulnerable victims of abuse.
Julia, now six years old, is doing well. Through CAC’s crisis counseling, she found a voice to address the abuse. Her brother received court-ordered juvenile sexual offender treatment as part of his probation. He formally apologized to his sister and parents, and, with Julia’s safety in mind, is working with them towards reunification.
Yet healing doesn’t happen overnight...
The day we found out, was the worst day of our lives.
Sitting in her living room couch next to her husband, Diane starts to cry and Tom hugs her close. “We love all our children,” she says after a moment to the visiting caseworker. “But this? I still don’t know.”
“It’s not something you’d ever think could happen in your own house,” Tom says. “How could your own child do such a thing? To his younger sister. And how did we not see it?”
Glancing out their home’s window they see their daughter swinging high on the rickety old swing set in the backyard, a smile spread across her face.
If Julia can continue to heal, thinks Diane, then so can we. We’ll just keep taking it one day at a time...
CHANGE MAKER ACTION: Because of your support, United Way of Greater Toledo and our corporate partners, like Libbey, are able to invest in programs that create lasting change in our community. Our funding for domestic violence support programs through the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center is just one component of that lasting change for victims of abuse. We thank Libbey and its employees for making it possible for us to invest in these important programs. By donating below, you join in supporting initiatives that help heal families and the next generation of our community.
*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center, on behalf of their United Way funded program, Children's Advocacy Center. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.Return to Blog Home
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Thursday, January 31, 2019
This job is not an easy one, but it is rewarding beyond measure. It is an honor to be invited into the lives of survivors, during their most vulnerable and difficult times. It is an honor to share their stories with you today.